18 April 2011

Injuries Suck

If only my footwork was as talented as some of the players in this video, I probably wouldn't write code for a living! Although I have played soccer nearly all my life, I haven't sustained injuries that stopped me from playing since I was in high school when I fully severed my right ACL.

A few years ago, my wife and I began playing in a coed indoor soccer league on Friday nights on a team of friends. Last year, she sustained a hip injury during a game that took her out of all sports for a couple months while it healed. Luckily she healed well and got back to running and soccer. Well this spring it seems is my turn with the injuries.

About five weeks ago I sustained an injury to some ribs that left them pretty badly bruised and they are still not 100% healed (I still cannot sleep on my left side!). Then about 10 days ago, a swift kick to the lower, inside of the tibia just above the ankle and just outside my shin guards caused a sizable hematoma on my leg. It's basically a pocket of blood that forms under the skin when the wall of a blood vessel is damaged and allows blood to flow into the surrounding tissue. Not only is the area of the injury very swollen and discolored, but it has caused my entire ankle and heel to swell and discolor. The photo below looks similar to my injury but mine is on the inside of the tibia.

I applied ice to the injury all week, and then began alternating heat treatments near the end of the week. After wrapping it up good, I decided to play on Friday night. What a mistake that wound up being. Near the end of the first half, I was checked into the boards causing my ankles to smack together right on the hematoma. Needless to say that took me out for the game, barely able to walk on the injured leg.

As I awoke on Saturday morning because of the pain in my leg, I had reserved myself to the thought of rest until it heals. The doctor told me that it could take up to four months for this to heal! I was stunned when he told me this. He also said if the hematoma didn't go away on it's own, it could require a surgical procedure. Geez! As much as I love playing soccer, I guess I will have to stop until this injury is healed. Well I guess I will be playing more guitar and cycling :-).

17 April 2011

Playing Guitar

Since we finished the ActiveMQ in Action book recently, I actually have some spare time now. So I've began to get back into playing guitar. I'm not especially talented, but I have always enjoyed strumming chords and playing rhythm guitar.

Every week, my girls take piano lessons from a friend whose husband taught them both kindergarten at a nearby Montessori school. The couple are both accomplished musicians and really enjoy teaching music. She plays guitar, piano and sings; he plays guitar and sings. We've seen them play together and they are very complimentary together. So recently I decided to take some guitar lessons from the husband while the wife teaches my girls piano.

It's funny to learn that collaboration means just as much in playing a musical instrument as it does in writing code. When I collaborate with others and actually write code with them, I tend to learn a lot more than when I just sit in a corner writing code. So far, the same is true for playing guitar. Sitting at home, playing by myself seems so much more limiting than playing even once a week with my friend. He has been a musician for many years, is very talented and is also a gifted teacher.

For many years now, when I'm solving problems with the work I do and I get stuck, I tend to grab my guitar to clear my mind. Playing for even just 5 or 10 minutes can help me see a problem more clearly. I know that taking a walk with my dogs would do the same thing, but I can't go out for multiple walks during the day. But I can quickly grab my guitar, play for a brief period of time and then get back to work. Oftentimes when I do this, I'm able to immediately solve a problem that I've been working on for a while.

Something I know about myself is that I enjoy constant learning. When I stop learning, I tend to lose interest in whatever I'm doing. Getting back into playing guitar and learning again is a breath of fresh air. I have known this for years, but it's nice to be reminded of it again.

Though I'm still playing on a cheap acoustic guitar I bought many years ago in college through Musician's Friend, I'm still having fun. But I'm realizing again why most people don't stick with guitar when they are first learning. Typically, cheap guitars are not easy to play. Your fingers begin to hurt and your hands can cramp rather quickly with a cheap guitar. I've simply been trying to play though this recently and it's starting to become a problem. So now I'm wondering about graduating to a nicer guitar that is easier to play. When something is easy to do, you tend to want to do it more often. Playing a nice Taylor guitar in a shop recently reminded me of this. Though I don't think I want to spend that kind of money, I do have something different in mind. More on that in a future post.

05 April 2011

ActiveMQ In Action Now Available

ActiveMQ in Action is now available in print! After the long road of writing the book, it's very nice to actually see it in print. One of the first things I noticed about the final PDF was the color in the images. Manning did a very nice job of adding color. I've already had four people mention to me that they really like the colored images.

One really nice thing about Manning print books is that they include a complimentary ebook which comes in three formats: PDF, mobi, and epub when available. So if buy the print book, you will get an electronic copy include at no additional charge. This can be very handy when you don't care to lug around a print book wherever you go, but you would still like to search it for particular items.

If you want to learn about ActiveMQ and JMS, pick up your copy of ActiveMQ in Action today!